IFa welcomes forestry budget decision
The retention of funding for the forestry sector in the Budget has been broadly welcomed in the sector.
There had been fears that supports to the industry would face serious cuts.
However, the total allocation for next year has been set at €112m, just €2m back on last year.
Pat Hennessy, of the IFA's forestry committee, said the maintenance of funding for the forestry programme was an acknowledgement of the contribution of the sector to the economy and its increasingly important role in rural development.
He said the industry's value in 2010 was estimated to be more than €2.8bn.
Mr Hennessy added the protection of the forest premiums should help to restore confidence in the Afforestation Scheme, which was severely damaged by the forest premium cuts in the 2009 budget.
However, he said that if the sector was to achieve the afforestation targets, the Government must guarantee there will be no further cuts to forest premiums.
"The issue of confidence in the scheme needs to be addressed if there is any chance of achieving future afforestation targets. Many farmers are not willing to commit land to forestry when uncertainty exists in relation to forest premiums," said Mr Hennessy.